Christmas place mats

Cotton&Color is running a Christmas contest: to sew Christmas-themed place mats (they provide the pattern!). It’s always fun to participate in such a thing, moreover if the resulting finished objects are perfect for Christmas gifts!

So I took the plunge. As I was using directional prints, I sewed each one individually. I also added the appliqué star made of chalk-board fabric – so the place mat owner’s name can be written down, for example-.

Sewing with chalk-board fabric isn’t difficult at all. Only to remember that the stitches can not be ripped out – the stitching holes wouldn’t disappear-, and that it can not be ironed.

I made six them, and I think they don’t need further packing…  just a nice paper bag and that’s all, isn’t it?

Project: Christmas place mats
Size: 13″ x 16 1/8″ / 33 x 41 cm (aprox.)
Date: November 2017
Pattern: 6 Quick & Easy reversible place mats, Cotton&Color
Fabric: The Cookie Exchange, by Sweetwater, Moda Fabrics
Wishes, by Sweetwater, Moda Fabrics
Juniper Berry, by Basic Grey, Moda Fabrics
Grunge, by Basic Grey, Moda Fabrics
Batting: Thermolam TP971F, Pellon

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A Majorca-style embroidered table-runner

I did finish this little piece of embroidery in February, but I had a difficult time trying to get good photos of it, and, truth to be told, I even didn’t know how to begin this blog post… This table-runner is embroidered in the island of Majorca’s traditional embroidery style, which has a particular design (these floral, vineyard-type motives) and a particular technique to execute it. I learned it some years ago while visiting the island, and had always one on the making since. But I’m really slow working on those pieces: I can spend a couple of weeks spending lots of hours on them and then “forget” them for some months until I find the urge / necessity/ inspiration to work on them again.

So, I think I started this one in early 2014. By that time I didn’t have any kind of sewing journal! I did lots of work on it during Summer 2014, left it aside, work hard on it again on Spring 2015, left it again, and decided to finish it during one of my trips early this year.

The embroidery is quite simple: chain stitch and a variation of the herringbone stitch for the filling of the motives, complemented with cross-stitch. The particularity is on the chain stitch: it’s stitched using a small crochet -and an embroidery hoop-. I used the same technique for block n. 11 of The Splendid Sampler and explained part of the process on its blog post here. I just love the motion of crocheting through the fabric and getting those tiny, tight, regular chains. Once all the lines are stitched, the motif can be filled using a herringbone stitch that is subjected to the chain, not the fabric.

The use of only one colour family (with slight variations on tone) is also characteristic; although one can skip tradition and go for multicoloured works, I really like the effect of using one range of colour throughout all the piece. For this one I use the same colour for all the lines, and play with tone variations for the filling.

Also typical are the fillings using cross-stitch. They should occupy all the space, so on the borders they are “cut” by the design itself. There are plenty of options for them (I normally search for ideas on Spanish craft-related magazines…), and on this occasion I decided to use the same design throughout the piece.

For the borders I used a hemstitch. I just love to do drawn thread work (I’m an absolute beginner on that, though), but the piece was too small to do more intricate work than just hemming the borders.

I bought this piece already marked on a local haberdashery, without knowing the fabric nor the marking system. The fabric is not the best quality, but what annoys me is that I can’t remove the markings. I tried washing with hot water, but with no results. Fortunately they are not as evident as it might seem on the photos, so well, that’s it.

I already have a new already marked piece and the threads for it -this is going to be on the blue family-; now I just need to find some time…

Project: Majorca – style embroidered table runner
Size: 30 x 42 cm
Date: Early 2014 – February 2017
Pattern: Piece already marked purchased in a haberdashery in Majorca
Main thread: Cotton perlé n. 12 Anchor 314
Filling thread: Embroidery floss Anchor n. 302, 303, 308, 1002, 275

(Easy) Table runner

This year Moda Fabrics is running a 12-month contest, featuring a different designer each month. March is turn for Me and My Sister Designs, and I couldn’t resist to take a break from all the quilting that’s going around here and spend some afternoons working on the featured pattern, a table runner.

One of the requisites for entering is that all the fabric used must be from Moda (that makes sense, doesn’t it?). I do have several collections and prints from Moda in my stash, but I decided to play with a Moda Scrap Bag and just go with what was inside (this bag contains left-overs from cutting other pre-cuts, and there’s no way to know what’s inside each one… it’s a lottery!). So, in a sense, I didn’t choose the fabrics for this one… I added some Grunge as a contrasting solids, and a favourite from Zen Chic for the border.

For piecing the strips together, I cut them ½” longer than required, and alternated the direction of sewing (one up, one down) to avoid ending with a curved piece. I broke the main panel into three sections, sewed each one, trimmed to size, and the sewed them together. It worked quite well!

It’s a pretty quick project (I managed to have it completed in four afternoons, quilting included!), and I really like this summer-ly look it has (the weather also helps in that feeling…). It makes me think of picnics with sandwiches…

Project: Table runner
Size: 16″ x 50″/ 40.5 x 127 cm
Date: March 2017
Pattern: Easy Table Runner, Me and My Sister Designs
Top fabric: Coral, Queen of the Sea, by Stacy Iest Tsu, for Moda Fabrics
                  Grunge (several colours), by Basic Grey, for Moda Fabrics
Border, Backing: Hey Dot!, by Zen Chic, for Moda Fabrics
Batting: Fusible Thermolam TP971, Legacy
Quilting: machine-quilted, Star Thread 30WT

Moda’s Frivol n. 10: “Sugar”

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This is my Christmas project for this year! I started it in July having already in mind the idea to use it as a table-topper for the Christmas season. I loved the Frivol’s tin, the fabric, and the pattern. And it didn’t seem difficult, so there I went. But this little one was, if nothing, a journey of mistakes and lots, lots, lots of learning.

Firstly, I decided to starch the fabric (it was pre-cut). I use a water-based starch, and, guess what, there was shrinkage. A lot. I mean, I was lucky that I could follow the cutting instructions, because the shrinkage was so huge that I almost didn’t have enough fabric for the pattern cutting requirements. Fortunately, not all the pre-cuts in the tin were needed, so there were a couple of cutting-error victims that went directly to the scraps bin.

Piecing itself was not complicated and really quick. But then came the quilting part. I’d already decided to quilt in the ditch, but I interrupted the first attempt before I had finished the first block. It was a disaster. My walking foot front part is really narrow and it’s really difficult to see where the needle drops, so the resulting quilting was everywhere but in the ditch. I unpicked the stitches, and thought of a second plan.

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Which was eco-quilting the squares. In the second attempt I found I couldn’t rely on following my foot as a guide, so unpicking again it was; and then I marked the quilting lines without removing the safety pins I’ve used for basting. Wonky lines are a short term for what came out.

At the end: I pulled the fabric too much; my machine is really tiny to hold large quilts (and this one wasn’t specially large!), so there are irregular stitches -even using the walking foot!- due to wrongly feeding the quilt into the machine. And the border is, in no ways, square.

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I washed the quilt before adding the binding. I used a 2 1/2″ wide binding strip, but now I think it should have been less, perhaps 2 1/4″.

And I attached a label!!

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Overall, I’m really happy with the results. I learnt a lot from my own mistakes, and now I’m enjoying a new, beautiful table-topper, with all its imperfections.

This quilt was on exhibition in my local quilt shop, that’s why this post is so late, even it was finished a couple of months ago. It was also featured in a short Q&A at Cotton&Color’s blog.

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Project: Table-topper / Wall hanging
Size: 11″ x 14 1/4″/ 27.5 x 36 cm
Date: July 2016- September 2016
Pattern: Sugar, by Sweetwater (Moda Frivol n. 10)
Top fabric: The Cookie Exchange, by Sweetwater, for Moda Fabrics
Border: Galeria, Gail Marie, P&B Textiles
Backing fabric: unknown, a fabric purchased four years (?) ago
Batting: Regular Thermolam TP970, Legacy
Quilting: machine-quilted, Scanfil Organic 4801
Binding: Quilter’s Linen, Robert Kaufmann
Label: Bomull, Ikea

Linking with Finish it up Friday!

Two table runners

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These two table-runners were a special request from my mother, who also picked the fabric for them (a charm  pack) and gave me the final dimensions they should have. My main concern was to make the most of the fabric, and after some research, I decided for the hour-glass block, following this tutorial by Amy Smart (Diary of a quilter). I learnt a couple of things on the way about working with hour-glass blocks:

– When cutting the HST, watch out to keep the diagonal always in the same direction, otherwise, seams won’t nest.

– Look out for the diagonals when assembling blocks, and pin!

I assembled the blocks in columns instead of rows, so I wouldn’t have so many points to match. I found it rather difficult joining the columns together, as the seams had so much bulk. I did spin the central seams, and that helped in quilting, but didn’t affect the columns at all. Lots of seam-ripper went into these in order to get better matching points.

And to match the given dimensions, I opted to add the border in the second of them, when I run out of the main fabric. I must say that there were no left-overs from the charm-pack, and the border comes from a bundle I purchased some time ago, in order to stash some neutral fabric (and that came pretty handy in this case!)

As the table runners would be topped with lots of things, I kept the quilting pretty simple, just ecoing some of the diagonals. The binding is one of my favourite fabric lines for the job: Quilter’s Linen, by Robert Kaufman. I just love this rust colour… and I stashed it from a sale!

My mother loved the final result and I’m really happy of how these two turned out (and that I was able to finish them in due date!).

Project: Two table runners
Size: (1) 11″ x 28″ / 28 x 71 cm (2) 11″ x 31″ / 28 x 79 cm
Date: January, 2016June, 2016
Pattern: Hour-glass blocks
Top fabric: Jelly Bean, by Laundry Basket Quilts, Moda Fabrics
                  (border) Rove Indienne, French General, Moda Fabrics
Backing fabric: unknown, caramel fabric
Batting: Regular Thermolam TP970 (100% polyester), Legacy
Quilting: machine-quilt, Star Mercerized Egyptian Cotton, WT 30 Colour 480.
Binding: Quilter’s Linen 9864-179 (Rust), Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Linking with Finish it up Friday!

Table runner

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I needed a table runner for my dinning-room, and I loved this pattern by The Fat Quarter Shop since the moment it was released. And it turned out it had the right dimensions! Keeping the pattern in mind, I came across some charm packs from the Baby Jane collection and I absolutely fell in love with it!

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The quilt top went together pretty quickly (at least, for my standards of piecing, which normally is very slow) and with almost no use of the seam-ripper (!!), but I had it parked aside to work on other projects and -basically- to avoid quilting it. Quilting is the part of the process with which I’m less comfortable (in fact, I’m not comfortable at all with quilting). I know some free-motion quilting, but my machine doesn’t have a big throat space so for this one it was out of the question. I decided for straight-line quilting, and after consider different options (stitch in the ditch, horizontal lines) I settle for the 45º diagonal.

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As the top was mostly in white, I avoided the use of markers of any kind and went with the painter’s tape as a guide. It worked great! Also a walking-foot helps a lot. And as for the needles, I tried a Topstitch needle, but I think it was not the correct size for the thread and switched to an universal needle, which worked fine.

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The backing comes from a fabric I purchased some time ago in a fabric store -the ones where you can find different types of fabric, not only quilting cottons-. I purchased it for a specific idea that in the end didn’t materialised, so I’m glad I found a suitable use for it.

The binding is self-made from yardage, I love to make my own binding and not being limited by the choices of already-made binding available in the stores. And hand-sewing the binding to the back is highly addictive, I finished the quilt in no time! Now I don’t have enough time, but wouldn’t this look fantastic with Christmas-themed fabrics?

Project: Table runner
Size: 14 1/2″ x 58 1/4″ / 37 x 148 cm
Date: July, 2015 – November, 2015
Pattern: Mini Charm Mix table runner, The Fat Quarter Shop
Top fabric: Baby Jane, by Eric & Julia Comstock of Cosmo Cricket, Moda Fabrics
                  Bella Solids 9900 98 – White Bleached, Moda Fabrics
Backing fabric: Pascale Beatrix Tissus TX 64643
Batting: 100% Cotton batting -unknown producer.
Quilting: machine-quilt, Gutermann Polyester 101.
Binding: Quilter’s Linen 9864, Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Linking with Finish it up Friday!